Wednesday, 3 February 2010

TUPE or not TUPE?

Unexpectedly, the great institution of NOCS is undergoing a form of divorce. Formerly a marriage of convenience between the University and NERC, NOCS is now experiencing a civilised separation. What's more, NOCS is being shotgun-wedded to a scouser sister institute, POL. And the resulting union is to be known by the imaginative moniker NOC. As it happens, NOCS will still be known as NOCS, but POL is changing its maiden name to NOCL to reflect its home city and to distinguish it acronymically.

So, what's the fallout? So far, it sounds like the outcome will largely be business as usual, albeit with somewhat closer ties across NERC's centres and ostensibly clearer lines between NOC and its university partners. That's the big picture. At my bacterial level, the primary change is that I'll no longer be indentured to the University, but will now be a government wage-slave. Actually, that's not entirely accurate (or a fair characterisation of my privileged academic position). Because of TUPE, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment), I keep all of my terms and conditions, and even my payscale. My pension is less certain, but there's a suggestion that things might actually improve there.

Anyway, this has all been a big surprise at NOCS (and, one presumes, POL; sorry, NOCL). And it's not at all clear yet what the longer term consequences will be. Ostensibly it's a positive move, but seeing as it coincides with large government-mediated cuts to the university sector, it's difficult not to be a little uneasy. It'll all come out in the wash I guess, but it has made this week more interesting than I'd been expecting.

To answer the title question, one can't not TUPE. Refusal to switch employers is equivalent to penning one's resignation letter. So I'll be TUPE-ing.

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